Commissioners considering options for sheriff’s patrol office
DOVER-FOXCROFT — A potential move of the patrol and investigation divisions of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office from the former primary school building in Guilford across town to the C.H. Lightbody Medical Center on Park Street could be up in the air as the Piscataquis County Commissioners opted to table a decision on signing a lease with the town of Guilford during an Oct. 1 meeting. The commissioners were a bit unsure of signing a 3-year contract with another site in Guilford having recently come to their attention.
To alleviate cramped conditions and lack of privacy inside the main sheriff’s office in the same larger complex as the Piscataquis County Jail on Court Street in Dover-Foxcroft, in the spring of 2018 the patrol and investigation divisions moved up Route 15 to Guilford at the former primary school building. The law enforcement space previously was the home of the SAD 4 administrative office suite.
With the school building for sale county officials had been working with the town on an agreement to rent and then purchase, following an affirmative vote at the annual town meeting in mid-March, the C.H. Lightbody Medical Center at 3 Park Street. In April Mayo Regional Hospital closed its primary care office in Guilford after experiencing significant provider turnover in the previous year and a half. Guilford Medical Associates was housed there via a lease with the town.
In August the commissioners voted to relocate the patrol office starting in November. The commissioners were set to vote on a building contract this month, prior to Nov. 1.
“There’s a fly in the ointment here,” Commissioner Jim Annis said.
Commissioners Chair James White said the county was looking to lease for one year and purchase the medical building, pending the town meeting vote, rather than lease for three years. He said this was the position of the county from the start of the process.
“We never discussed that at our meeting with the selectmen,” he said about the 3-year term. “We don’t think the selectmen are trying to pull a fast one, we were probably not on the same page.”
“We have been approached with another opportunity in Guilford just down the street, a large commercial building,” White said. “I think we should review the rest of the opportunities we have before signing the lease.”
“I think if this other opportunity comes our way we would have to look at it,” Sheriff Robert Young said. He said he has been in this other building and “it would work well I think.”
“Bob and I need to come up with a plan if we go down that road,” County Manager Michael Williams said, with county officials scheduled to tour the site later in the week.
The sheriff said the agreement at the school building has the department leaving by Nov. 1, but it may be possible to stay there for another month or two as the various options for the patrol and investigation division office space are considered.
In other business, the commissioners approved a resolution — requested by Partners for Peace — to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Piscataquis County. The proclamation states that the county would join others throughout the state in recognizing this month by honoring survivors of domestic violence and being dedicated to the task of making the region a safer place for all citizens.
“I think we are all in agreement,” White said, before the affirmative vote for the proclamation.
“Unfortunately there is too much domestic violence and we need to step up, even if it’s uncomfortable,” he said, thanking Partners for Peace for its work. The organization provides information and support to anyone affected by abuse and domestic violence throughout Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.
“Our relationship with Piscataquis County is really important to our work every day,” Partners for Peace Advocate Cindy Freeman Cyr said.
“This is probably a good time to express our appreciation for Partners for Peace,” Young said, saying the department has worked with the organization and its various incarnations since he first joined in 1985.
“It’s a very good working relationship and we value the work they do,” the sheriff said. “We refer many women and men to Partners for Peace.”
In his report, Wiliams said he is working on the 2020 county budget and the 2020-21 Unorganized Territory spending plan. He said he has met with the heads of the district attorney and sheriff’s offices to go over budget requests and will be meeting with Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Capraro soon.
“As soon as I get something fairly well set I will send it out to you guys so you can have an initial look,” Williams said to the commissioners. He said the first meeting of the budget advisory committee is still to be scheduled.
The sheriff’s office received a $3,000 reimbursement from the risk management pool for department members’ safe driving practices. White said this amount equates to first-place honors.